Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Weird War of Words

I have been on record criticizing the authorities of Saudi Arabia as the worst people in the world, with their oppression of women, corporal and capital punishment for ridiculous things like blasphemy and sorcery, their export of intolerant religious fundamentalism, their near-genocidal war against Yemeni Shiites, and material support for terrorist groups. I can't think of a more loathsome coterie of fanatics.

Currently, the Saudis are involved in a diplomatic conflict with, of all places, Canada, over criticism of the kingdom's human rights record. They have withdrawn diplomats, expelled Canadian diplomats, pulled students out of Canadian universities, and restricted trade. Sadly, other nations have not stood by Canada in this conflict.

The real bizarre dimension of this conflict is the hamfisted attempt by the Saudis to wage a disinformation campaign, complete with claims that Jordan Peterson is a political prisoner and allegations of camel abuse. I cannot think of a sillier international spat.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Not the Hero We Want, But Perhaps the Hero We Deserve

I have a confession to make... years ago, I watched a good bit of season one of The Apprentice- I was living in a house with a bunch of old friends, a sort of beach house without an ocean, and we often watched the show to see what a train wreck it was. Also, one of the contestants was a local girl, the daughter of the owners of a nearby pizzeria. Back then, I suspected that Omarosa was an actress, a 'ringer' who was hired to stir the pot and cause conflict in order to boost ratings. It was actually a pretty good role, especially for an African-American woman, an elegant, intelligent, and ruthless go-getter who was far from both the servile mammy or sexualized Jezebel stereotypes. She was a 'heel', maybe even a villainess, but she wasn't a stereotype. I'm still sort of shocked that there never was a 'reveal' in which she whipped out her SAG card and proclaimed it all an act.

The act took on a new, surreal nature when Donald Trump hired her to work in the White House... here was a live-action version of a Disney villainess spilling out into what passes for the real world. She was the perfect embodiment of the draining of the swamp (wetlands being vital ecosystems) and the installation of a cesspool- though she was always a minor villain compared to monsters like Pruitt, Bannon, Miller, and the like. Her firing seemed like yet another reality TV drama- no doubt she'd be rehired in time to boost the Sweeps Week ratings.

The revelation that she has recorded numerous conversations during her tenure in the White House (including her recording of John Kelly in the supposedly secure Situation Room) comes as a shock, but not a surprise. She is as familiar with Donald Trump as anyone outside his family could be, and she must know much of what ended up on the cutting room floor when The Apprentice was edited. She's the shifty, grifty conniver who knows exactly how to handle other shifty, grifty connivers. I sure hope she has a bunch of recordings secreted away with an attorney as a life insurance policy.

As much as I can't stand Omarosa, she has emerged as a genuine anti-hero with these recordings. She's unsympathetic, but she's not the sort of individual who wants sympathy, and she has managed to rattle her even more unsympathetic ex-boss like nobody before her. If her actions result in the downfall of PotUS Dotus, then she will have served her nation well. It's hard to root for her, but she's a damn sight better than her newfound enemies.

At any rate, this administration has been little more than a WEE style soap opera, and it seems like Omarosa may have done a major heel-face turn. Well, here's a little limerick inspired by this development:

A crafty gal named Omarosa
Recorded some things said sub-rosa.
She kept the 'receipts'
Eliciting tweets,
From Donald, the moron who chose her.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

It Was About Unity, After All

Thankfully, the Unite the Right 2 rally ended up being a total non-event, without about a score of sad-sacks ending up surrounded by thousands of counterprotestors and leaving in disgrace. The entire Unite the Right 2 effort was completely undercut and overwhelmed by the unity of average Americans who want to 'secure a future' for everybody's children.

This is exactly what happened in Boston last year, when alt-righties tried to conduct a hatenanny. Big cities, especially Northeastern ones with stringent firearms possession laws, are not friendly environments for concentrations of fascists. We like our diversity, we aren't sympathetic to authoritarians. Let's hope that this sad little 'rally' teaches these assholes to stay in their (mainly online) safe spaces.

I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to remember the life and work of Heather Heyer, who was murdered by a neo-Nazi terrorist. I would chalk up much of the repugnance toward the alt-right to the killing of this iinnocent young woman, and like many others, wish to see her martyrdom result in a more decent society.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Deny Them a Foothold

Tomorrow's Unite the Right 2: Ethnocentric Boogalo in DC promises to be a real shitshow. My suggestion for a counter to the rally is echoed in this plan to block attendees from parking at the Vienna, VA metro station. A similar denial of parking tactic used in Vancouver, WA, stymied transportation to the recent Portland 'Patriot Prayer' shitshow. The best tactic to use against these assholes is one of 'jamming'- force them to expend more effort to get to and from the destination- fill up the trains, cluster in the streets going toward Lafayette Park. Most of the attendees will be outsiders... force them to find alternative transportation, make them walk blocks out of their way to get to where they want to be. There's no need to engage with them, simply amble along the streets like clueless tourists, making frequent stops in order to obstruct the sidewalks. Make the out-of-towners feel 'all at sea', many of them aren't city folk, and are unused to the congestion of an inner city- frustrate them simply by living as an urbanite. Deny them a foothold, and do it in a manner that they can't even counter. Mess with their logistics.

Also, deny them any comfort, figure out where the public bathrooms are and occupy them, restrict them from your places of business, make them use up resources like gasoline and bottled water. It's supposed to be a stormy day in DC, deny them a place to get out of the rain. These people want their little war, give them confusion. I'm a judo player, and our sport is about controlling, rather than injuring them (though we are capable of messing someone up, it's not our purpose)... control the movements of these assholes, control the unfamiliar (to them) urban environment. There's no need to be confrontational, simply show them how insignificant they are in a large, diverse metropolitan environment

Friday, August 10, 2018

Rancho Del Rana

I have noted before that my jobsite is home to a plethora of large amphibians. We have the sort of bullfrogs that endanger even snapping turtle hatchlings. I mean, these things are all maw and hind legs! These are exactly the sort of beauties that could have earned you BIG BUX, because retro magazine ads never lie:

Yeah, back in the 1930s, frog ranching was the industry of the future... I mean, how could you possibly fail? It's just as easy as raising silkworms.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Not the New Branch We Need

The big policy story of the day is Mike Pence's speech at the Pentagon arguing for the creation of a Space Force, which promises to be an eight billion dollar boondoggle that will line the pockets of Marilyn Lockheed. Meanwhile, Russian hackers are targeting the US power grid and the Republicans blocked funding for electoral security... a cyberspace force would be more sensible, given the nature of the threats to our nation.

Well, with the increasing incidence of wildfires and storms due to climate change, a wide-focus scientific defense force would be the best response to the multiple threats that we face as a nation and a species. Longtime readers will know that I am talking about the creation of a Science Ninja Team. Groovy bell bottoms are optional:

Of course, with Pence involved, I can forsee an eight billion dollar 'creation science ninja team' boondoggle.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Was Geddy Lee Playing a Joke?

I have to confess that I actually like several songs by Canadian libertarian band Rush... though I find their earnest Libertarianism to be silly and their sci-fi lyrics are often goofy, I have to admit that a song like Red Barchetta gives me goosebumps. While poking around the t00bz, I found a reference to a Rush song I'd never heard, 1996's Virtuality, which in typical earnestly nerdy Rush fashion is about the internet:

It's certainly not the band's best effort, but it's inoffensive. What struck me about the song was lyrics of the chorus:

Net boy, net girl
Send your signal ’round the world
Let your fingers walk and talk
And set you free

I was immediately reminded of Elton Motello's 1977 trash classic Jet Boy, Jet Girl, which was recorded over the same background track later used in Plastic Bertrand's better known (because it's not filthy and problematic) Ça plane pour moi. Even though I am listening to it on the job, Jet Boy, Jet Girl is not safe for work (working alone has its benefits):

The Damned adopted the song as part of their repertoire:

I wonder if Geddy Lee and his bandmates were having some fun when he wrote the chorus to Virtuality, or if it was a fluke. While their oeuvre tends to be earnest, if not necessarily serious, Geddy was known to participate in a joke occasionally.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Many Abdominal/Gastrointestinal Afflictions

One of the platforms of Republicanism, which has been ramped up under Trumpism, is deregulation, sold as the removal of 'burdensome' or 'job killing' regulations. The reality is that Joe and Jane Schmo don't benefit from such deregulatory actions as bringing asbestos back to American industry.

Another effect of deregulation is the surge in food recalls due to cyclospora, salmonella, and listeria contamination. There was a scurrilous item in the book Fire and Fury which suggested that Trump eats at McDonald's because he fears being poisoned- one would think that he'd be a little more picky about the conditions under which the food supply is processed.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Broad Spectrum Banning

Holy crap, Facebook, Apple, Spotify, and Youtube have all banned Alex Jones in a multi-site deplatforming which can be likened to a decapitation strike against the Right Wing Conspiracy Industrial Complex. I would love to know what final straw caused multiple avenues of content distribution to drop Jones like a hot rock. I suspect it has to do with lawsuits against Jones by sympathetic plaintiffs- what company wants to be seen as a party to defamation of victims?

There is a lot of wangst among the Jonestown Flavor-Ade drinkers regarding Jones' First Amendment rights, but nobody has a right to a platform provided by a private entity such as Facebook or YouTube. Jones and his minions have no more right to a soapbox on Facebook and YouTube than Emma Gonzalez has a right to a soapbox on InfoWars... and I don't see Jones giving her or David Hogg access to his site. Regarding assertions that Facebook is a monopoly, those are bullshit as well- Myspace never went away, and Right Wingers are free to come up with their own social media platforms- they are just really bad at it. Also, there are always cesspools such as 4chan and 8chan for Jones to use for distribution... he's just mad that he is now relegated t:o a nutjob circle jerk.

One bizarre byproduct of the Jones ban is that most of his YouTube exposure will now be in the form of remixes... eventually, he may come to be seen as a alternative EDM act:

Seriously, these things are addictive:

If this entire sub-genre of electronica is Jones' legacy, then maybe his damage to the public discourse will have been worth it.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Hitting Close to Home?

I have a suspicion that Dotard is cracking under the pressure of the Russia collusion investigation, a suspicion that things are heating up, hitting closer to home for him... what other reason would he have to tweet this out?

Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!

This contradicts his earlier narrative that the meeting was about the adoption of Russian babies. I suspect that Donald Jr is going to be taken in for interrogation by Mueller's people, and that his dad is shitting a brick over it. There are allegations that Trump pere used to smack his son around in front of other people. If that is true, I imagine he will be regretting that if his son decides that he doesn't want to be a fall guy for his father.

Tengrain has a really good post on this topic, including some funny takes regarding Trump 'sacrificing his eldest son for the good of the country'. I really think Junior needs to figure out that his dad means for him to take the fall before it's too late.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Relieved About Portland

I really thought that the right wing rally in Portland, Oregon was going to be a lot more violent than it was. I had been expecting a melee, but it see that the violent parties were contained, for the most part. Sadly, it looks to me like the worst injuries were inflicted by gung-ho police using ‘less-than-lethal’ projectiles on counter protestors in an irresponsible manner... guess it’s clear what side they are on, and it’s up to the populace of Portland to demand accountability.

The real heroes in this whole mess were the business owners who prevented the righties from using their parking lots, interfering with their transportation logistics. It’s likely that they prevented the fascists from achieving a critical mass necessary for inflicting real mischief on Portlanders.

This is just a quick post before heading off to work, I will edit to provide links when I am ensconced at my desk later.

Friday, August 3, 2018

It Begins

I just locked up the building and closed off the parking lot after a crew of our Fall Fundraising Event contractors left a planning meeting on the premises. Every year, it seems like Fall has arrived earlier. I know everyone who was at the meeting, I have come to value their friendship over the course of almost a decade working together.

I also have to cobble together a Fall schedule, trying to ensure week-round coverage with five employees, including myself. I am plugging names and times into our web-based scheduling software, stopping to sigh, and saying, 'And this is where the magic happens!' I'm looking at six and seven day weeks for two months, but as long as HR and our comptroller sign off on the wages, I should be okay. I already told my neighbors that I would be pulling a 'Captain Nemo', not surfacing for long time.

It's the first weekend of August, and it already feels like Summer is over, but for the fact that it's hot and exceedingly muggy. I would like to take a day or two off before crunch time, but looking at our staffing needs, and our attenuated workforce, I don't know how feasible this will be.

Oh, well, it beats working 9-to-5 in insurance.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Ridiculous Rationale for a Stupid 'Solution' to a Manufactured Problem

Stupid and evil often go hand-in-hand, especially with the current crop of incompetent grifters in the Trump Maladministration. The latest atrocity is the proposed rollback of fuel efficiency and emissions standards for automobiles. Trump and his crony capitalist kakistocrats also seek to remove California's ability to regulate in-state emissions. It's a bundle of badness, guaranteed to boost fossil fuel corporations' profits, lower the cost of automobile manufacturing, and 'own the libs' by poisoning the air and ramping up anthropogenic global warming. Never mind that a chronic heat wave is gripping much of North America, doing something to mitigate climate change cuts into profits.

Adding insult to injury is the maladministration's claim that decreasing fuel efficiency standards will save lives:

The Trump administration says people would drive more and be exposed to increased risk if their cars get better gas mileage, an argument intended to justify freezing Obama-era toughening of fuel standards.

The maladministration also claimed that heavier cars are safer:

New vehicles would be cheaper – and heavier – if they don’t have to meet more stringent fuel requirements and more people would buy them, the draft says, and that would put more drivers in safer, newer vehicles that pollute less.

The equation mass x velocity puts the lie to this assertion.

This lowering of standards benefits only large corporations- fossil fuel companies, auto manufacturers, and the various support industries that prop them up, including mercenaries to fight in petrowars. The average person suffers from the effects of pollution, from extraction, from the conflicts that surround petroleum reserves, both abroad and at home. The very idea that any nation would work to stymie, even reverse, progress on fuel efficiency and environmental standards is monstrous.

It's here where I note that Russia's economy depends heavily on fossil fuels.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Keeping the Family Grifting Tradition Going

I thought that I had written a blog post about Jordan Peterson, the stupid person's idea of a smart person, but it seems I haven't... oh, well, the best characterization of Peterson I've ever read is Emma's comment at Smut's Place:

Maaaaan, but somebody needs to bring down the wrath of god on that irritating motherfucker like yesterday. I actually tried to read his awful Theory of Everything book last month! It was like Joseph Campbell got hit by a bus and no one noticed, and he staggered across the street to the public library with blood running down his head, and he read nineteen pages of The White Goddess, and three chapters of The Golden Bough, and then the last two-thirds of Émile Durkheim's Wikipedia page, and suddenly he understood the shape of the world beneath its shroud of falsehoods and deceits. And also he lost about 50 I.Q. points. And Peterson's fans are all so dumb they're unable to notice that not only is their Emperor naked, he's actually a horse. I don't know how that anthropomorphized clownshoe has been able to pass himself off as an intellectual for all these years. Are the hiring standards at Canadian universities a lot different than ours, or what?

Besides being an alt-right darling and a devotee of evil evo-psych bafflegab, Peterson is a scam artist, selling silly self-help platitudes to gormless nitwits. Now, it seems, his daughter has found a scam of her own:

It’s the “carnivore diet,” the latest food trend to sweep the internet, and the 26-year-old swears that it cured her depression and rheumatoid arthritis. Yes, she admits, it “sounds absolutely insane,” there is no research to back it up, and she isn’t qualified to give medical diagnoses. But now she’s offering Skype “consultations” about the diet for about $90 an hour, following in her famous dad’s financial footsteps.

Oh, dear, this is some really dubious lifestyle advice, though the thought of a bunch of incels and alt-righters paying for the privilege of contracting scurvy and arteriosclerosis doesn't seem to bother me for some reason.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Over at Tengrain's place, the Patron Saint of Small Bloggers posed a hilarious challenge- come up with a suitably Shakespearean spoof to describe the current shitshow. The results in his comments were pure comedy gold. While I am on record stating that Shakespeare's Macbeth was an egregious hit piece, I will grudgingly admit that it is one damn fine play. Therefore, here is an expanded take on Tengrain's joke challenge, spoofing the infamous dagger scene in Macbeth Act 2, Scene 1:

Is this a smartphone which I see before me,
The keypad toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A smartphone of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses,
Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,
And on thy screen and buttons tweets of bile,
Which was not so before. There's no such thing:
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one halfworld
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates
Pale Vladimir's offerings, and wither'd treason,
Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,
Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace.
With Twitter's ravening screeds, towards his design
Haunts like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set bowl,
Hear not my tweets, which way they wend, for fear
Thy very tiles prate of my whereabout,
And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it. Whiles I tweet, he lives:
Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.
I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Mueller; for it is a tweet
That summons thee to vict'ry or defeat.

Now hurry up Mueller and bring Birnam Wood to Pennsylvania Avenue!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Horticultural Jewel

One of the botanical jewels on our properties is a magnificent trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), an ostentatious plant native to the eastern United States. These plants can grow aggressively, potentially causing damage to host trees or structures on which they grow. Our specimen is particularly beautiful:

The bright flowers are about three inches long, perfectly suited for pollination by hummingbirds- in our neck of the woods, typically the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris):

There were hummingbirds visiting our trumpet vine, but they stuck to the upper reaches of the plant, making decent photography with a phone camera a pipe dream. I did manage to photograph an ant on one of the flowers, though- these plants recruit ants to defend themselves with nectar-filled structures.

This showy plant is one of the horticultural jewels on our property... even better, it's a jewel that attracts other jewels, the gorgeous little birds that feed on and pollinate the flowers.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

A Partial Fix for a Pernicious Problem

I don't discuss Alex Jones very often, though I feel that he shouldn't be ignored. The paranoid right-wing conspiracy theories he peddles, mainly warmed over Bircher nonsense seasoned with a touch of Nebel/Bell lunacy, have had a pernicious effect on political discourse- there's no real middle ground between people who oppose child prisons on the US border and people who believe that there are child slave camps on Mars. Jones is also a major pusher of the conspiracy 'theory' that there is a child trafficking ring run by powerful Democratic Party and 'Deep State' operatives. Meanwhile, politicians caught victimizing underage individuals are typically Republicans, conservative ones.

Jones' video suggesting that he wants to shoot Robert Mueller seems to have been a 'bridge too far', and Facebook suspended his personal account for thirty days. While this is a partial fix, Jones' Infowars account has not been affected- it's as if Facebook fixed a leaky faucet while leaving a torrent of raw sewage to continue to flow into the national memescape. There are hints that the Infowars page might be yanked, but I'm not holding my breath... it's not as if Zuckerb0rg has any moral fiber.

Friday, July 27, 2018

I've Heard this Song Before

For connoisseurs of outré news, Florida is a constant wellspring of wonder. My favorite Florida story of the week (nobody died, so this is guilt-free joy) is the tale of a woman who brandished a gun and compelled her Uber driver to help her with sketchy tasks:

Deputies said a woman named “Kimberly” accepted a dispatch from Uber to pick up Betty Jo Halter from Marvin's Garden Mini Storage and Business Center in Bunnell.

Investigators said Kimberly told them that Halter appeared frantic when she opened the door of the car and started loading items from a storage unit into the vehicle.

Kimberly asked Halter to stop what she was doing, but she continued to do so and then sat in the front passenger seat, deputies said.

When Kimberly asked Halter to get out of the car and remove her belongings, Halter pulled a gun from a pink Coach bag and pointed it at Kimberly, an arrest report said.

This story immediately reminded me of one of my favorite solo efforts by Wall of Voodoo frontman Stan Ridgway. I've long been a fan of Wall of Voodoo and have an appreciation for Mr Ridgway's noir sensibilities. These sensibilities are beautifully showcased by "Drive," She Said:

The promotional video even looks like a classic scene from a film noir. Of course, the femme fatale in Mr Ridgway's song wasn't dumb enough to go home, and the song was the time before phone apps which identify users. Florida just isn't sending us its best femme fatales.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Feast or Famine?

Last weekend, I was able to purchase a package of T-bone steaks for under $4/lb. It struck me as odd at the time, but yesterday I read of a meat glut, a 2.5 billion pound surplus of beef, pork, chicken, and turkey in cold storage. This meat glut (dibs on the name for my Industrial band) could be exacerbated by Trump's trade wars, which have inspired Mexico, China, and Canada to raise tariffs on 'Murrican meat. All that meat, and no markets to dump it on.

Conversely, there are reports that the United Kingdom's government has planned to stockpile food in case of a hard Brexit- thirty percent of the UK's food supply comes from the European Union, so any disruption in trade could force English people to eat past sell-by date Branstons Pickle, though eating a surfeit of lampreys may once more be viable. If there are food disruptions, this wouldn't be the first time a horrible UK government caused a famine.

Isn't conservative governance a grand thing?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Hail and Farewell

This afternoon, on the job, I attended at hail and farewell luncheon for a well-liked co-worker, the administrative assistant of my immediate supervisor. She started off working at my principal worksite, and I took an immediate shine to her because of her quick wit and irreverent sense of humor. When she made the switch to the main office, I joked, "Now that we're in the same department, we'll see a lot less of each other." In her office position, she would often email me about the more outré aspects of my job, forcing me to describe procedures and equipment without resorting to jargon, which is an important skill to acquire.

Her husband got a job in the Pacific Northwest a few months ago, so she was tasked with holding down the fort in New York until their daughters finished the school year and she could put their house on the market. Buying a place in Cascadia is contingent on the sale of their current home. She's a smart, feisty woman, so I have no doubt that she will handle this task with aplomb.

At the going away luncheon, I ended up at a table with a bunch of muckey-mucks- our organization's president, two vice presidents (the head of HR and our head of community engagement). Our conversation started with a joke about my profile picture in the payroll system, specifically the fact that Ginger is 'photobombing' me. I then passed around my phone to show off some photos of other workplace companions, such as this gorgeous lady... we had a laugh about her being a member of the grounds crew, in charge of pond cleanup. It was a lovely time, they are an engaging bunch of people and they appreciated a window into what goes on when the bulk of our workforce is off.

The sendoff was a good one- everybody was excited about our friend's new adventure. We will miss her, with her professionalism and comedic skills, but she's going to excel in her new environs, and that outweighs any melancholy we might have felt.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tronc Trounces Trump Trollers

In a depressing local development, the Tronc media group has laid off fifty percent of the NY Daily News editorial staff. This is a worrisome development, especially because the Daily News has been on a roll since the election of quintessential New York asshole Donald J. Trump. Remember, we loathed him long before you did. The Daily News has, time and again, taken Trump to the woodshed.

Long considered one of NYC's 'tabloid' newspapers, the 'News' has actually done a better job of holding Trump's feet to the fire than the NY Times. The 'Times' has been an embarrassing farrago of Trump shillery, endless Cletus safaris, and the worst exemplars of bothsiderism and dank rightie hot takes for altogether too long. The 'News' was more in tune with the needs of working and middle class readers... I guess that's why Tronc had to gut it.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Speak Incoherently and Tweet in All-Caps

Late last night, I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary. I usually take a break from the constant flow of news and listen to music for a couple of hours... but last night, this snapped me out of my usual Sunday reverie:


This isn't the sort of international policy that one expects from any high official in a Western Democratic Republic... it's pretty much the sort of screed that an angry twelve year old on XBOX Live would use after losing a video game. Diplomacy, it's not.

Oddly enough, my first reaction to this tweet was 'I really need to gas up the car before the price of petroleum skyrockets.' It hasn't gone up much, perhaps because nobody really takes Trump seriously these days. I'm glad I filled up the tank at 2AM, though, because things could get volatile.

The whole sorry performance hints at desperation, perhaps because the chants of the Lafayette Park protestors were audible. I certainly wouldn't expect Trump to be averse to using a 'wag the dog' tactic. If he does decide to carry out an attack on Iran, maybe he can send the seventy thousand people who liked his tweet as a vanguard.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Money Well Spent

On the way from work this morning, I stopped by the local H Mart, a Korean-American supermarket with great prices, good quality, and a head-spinning variety of products. After picking up some vegetables and a package of delicious chicken hearts, I headed down the Housewares aisle and made a big score, a portable charcoal grill with folding legs for only eight bucks:

Huh, I never noticed that the decorative ferrule on the chair in the lower right corner looked like a peener until now... At any rate, this grill is smaller than my laptop and probably weighs under two pounds. I guess it was on sale because summer vacation time is waning. At any rate, grilling season is year-round. My landlady provided us a propane grill, but it's not the same as a GEN-YOO-INE CHARCOAL GREE-YUL... you might as well just put a stove in the backyard.

Even better, at the local Stop and Shop yesterday, I scored a package of T-bone steaks, each one perfect for this grill, for under $4/lb. I think Reagan would approve of this purchase because REASONS.

Friday, July 20, 2018

When Looking Around Is Getting You Down

It's been a crap week, as far as the news cycle goes. On the workfront, things have been busy- this is a six day week, which is wearing me down, but good for the bank account. Today was a gloriously lovely summer day- not too hot, and with low humidity. Tonight is absolutely gorgeous- shortly after sundown, I was greeted by a lovely half moon (most appropriate for a lower New York location) attended by Jupiter:

Even a quick shot with a phone camera resulted in a decent photo- the half moon is rounded out by the focus softening clouds and Jupiter is just visible below the halo of light from the moon. The sight of these heavenly bodies was even prettier than the photograph indicates. Given the vastness of the cosmos, earthly problems can diminish to insignificance for a moment or two.

When looking around is getting you down, look up.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I've Seen This Movie

In the midst of all the crazy stories deriving from the Helsinki Treason Summit, there's one story which really needs more attention: a small amount of plutonium and cesium were stolen from a Department of Energy SUV parked in a San Antonio hotel lot. This is the sort of thing that happens when a corrupt boob runs the department. While the amount of missing plutonium may be small, that stuff is dangerous, so the fact that it is missing is disconcerting, to say the least.

This whole kerfuffle reminds me of the plot of one of my favorite movies, Robert Aldrich's 1955 noir classic Kiss Me Deadly, with its famous atomic McGuffin:

If you haven't watched the film, it's just about perfect, with incredible dialogue and a morally ambiguous hero who is up against absolute monsters. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

If Anything, Things Look Worse

It's been one bummer of a week, and it's little more than half over. While we don't know what Trump discussed with his boss on Monday, there are some suggestive hints... Trump's bizarre statement about Montenegro's people being aggressive, and the possibility of them starting World War Three, is troublesome, considering that Montenegro joined NATO last year. Putin probably backed an attempted coup in Montenegro in 2016. Trump's statement about Montenegro signals that the United States can no longer be trusted to honor the obligations encoded by its alliances... to me, it looks like NATO is functionally done.

Just as worrisome is Trump's refusal to rule out handing former ambassador Michael McFaul to the tender mercies of Putin's inquisitors. This is a clear signal to anyone in the diplomatic corps that diplomatic immunity is now a farce. It also signals that the US Government doesn't take seriously its obligation to protect United States citizens from autocratic regimes with which the US doesn't even have an extradition treaty. McFaul may be Putin's enemy, but he's no enemy of the American people.

Mere discussion of violating treaties and extraditing American citizens to hostile foreign powers is an unacceptable subversion of the norms by which civilized societies work. If this doesn't spur Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings, then this downward spiral into autocracy will ramp up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


It's been almost a decade since the last foxy redheaded Russian spy story broke, but sexiness sells, and it seems that foxy Russian spies are a renewable resource, therefore the arrest of Russian 'gun rights activist' and possible spy Maria Butina is all over the news. She certainly has appeared with numerous pro-gun figures, as David Hogg pithily noted:

The real kicker is that the NRA funneled Russian money into the Trump campaign... Russian money, Russian agents- the GOP is in the midst of a Slavic shitstorm, a Russiacane. Now, in order to better cover up this flow of dark money, the Treasury Department is going to make it easier to hide donors. Spasiba, assholes!

I suspect that Maria Butina was ratted out by Dana Loesch... Dana is ten years older than Butina and probably saw the younger gal with the flamboyant red hair as a threat. I think the final straw probably came when this borscht 'bibing babe sold more beets than Dana. How many gun molls could the NRA possibly need? Gun molls, like foxy redheaded Russian spies, are also a renewable resource.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Summit Was a Nadir

Today, I spent a good deal of the day listening to the United States President act as if he were a Russian mole who had infiltrated the highest office in the land In a meeting which has popularly come to be known as the Treason Summit, Donald J. Trump met with his boss for a performance review. Before the summit, by which I mean nadir, began, Trump was blaming the United States for bad US/Russia relations. When he met with Putin, it was behind closed doors, with the accompaniment solely of translators... not a good sign at all. I sure as hell hope the Finns found a way to bug the meeting, perhaps with a 'wire tapp' of some sort.

Things got even more surreal when Trump and Putin conducted a joint press conference which freaked a lot of people out. Particularly bizarre was Trump's plan to let Putin guard the henhouse:

"I addressed directly with President Putin the issue of Russian interference in our elections. I felt this was a message best delivered in person. Spent a great deal of time talking about it. And President Putin may very well want to address it, and very strongly, because he feels very strongly about it, and he has an interesting idea."

He trusts Putin over the members of his own country's security/intelligence apparatus:

"So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today."

Okay, Vlad says he's innocent, so he must be innocent!

The whole summit nadir has been such a shitshow that even Republican congresscreeps are freaking out about it, though none of them seem inclined to do anything about it, such as impeaching the motherfucker. Trump will return to DC, or one of his golf resorts, and he'll still be a Russian asset. It wasn't that long ago that American neocons were trumpeting a unipolar moment in which the United States was the world's sole hyperpower- now through the actions of one fool, it now seems to be a client state of a country with a GDP smaller than that of Canada. I can't wait until Putin rolls out our new cybersecurity strategy!

As a kid, the classic WLIR used to play this song, which even during the tail end of the Cold War seemed a bit of a novelty song:

Somehow, it doesn't seem all that funny anymore.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

There Are Twelve of Them and Asshole Lyin'

In the realm of international relations and domestic politics, things are, to use a technical term, fucked up... twelve Russians have been charged with meddling in the 2016 election cycle and the president of the US might be a Russian asshole... errr... asset. Put succinctly, shit's weird.

Seeking a bit of escapism, I decided to read a novel, John Le Carré 's 1974 thriller/procedural Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The novel chronicles an investigation into Russian infiltration of an intelligence agency conducted by an agent, George Smiley, who was drummed out of the service in the upheaval after the death of the elderly, ailing agency head. Brought out of retirement after a bombshell revelation of betrayal by a field agent who romanced a disenchanted Soviet agent, who divulged the presence of the undermining 'mole'. Smiley was conceived as an anti-James Bond... he is on the far end of middle-age, portly, erudite, unobtrusive enough to be able to melt into a crowd, and married to a brilliant, aristocratic wife who conducts multiple affairs (in the parlance of the Cartoon Frog Ironic Nazi Brigade, he is a 'cuck'). Possessing an eidetic memory and a painstaking attention to detail, Smiley, with the aid of his trusted protégé Peter Guillam, tracks down clues, interviewing former agents and hunting down information pointing to the contents of 'misplaced' or redacted files. Smiley's role is almost entirely cerebral, with Guillam doing the necessary legwork and occasional pilfering of evidence.

The title refers to the code names of the suspects, derived from a children's rhyme:

Tinker, tailor,
soldier, sailor,
rich man, poor man,
beggarman, thief.

Before the action of the novel, Smiley was a suspect, but was cleared by the old agency head, known simply as 'Control'. After clearing Smiley, there are three highly-ranked suspects in addition to the new agency head, hence the tagline which my post title refers to: "There are three of them, and Alleline." Smiley's mission is to uncover which of these individuals is, or are, responsible to feeding information to the Russian intelligence service.

The book was a quick, entertaining read- the dialogue is flawless, and the jargon invented by le Carré has an air of authenticity that has led to its adoption in real life. The action in the book is almost entirely cerebral- the hunt is a battle of wits, not a superfest di puncho puncho run run. The book also frankly depicts sexual matters such as Smiley's wife's infidelity and the probable same-sex romance between two extremely competent men of action, with no moral judgment attached to their relationship by le Carré.

Immediately after reading the novel, I hunted down the 1979 BBC miniseries starring Alec Guinness.

I wanted to cement in my head the complicated plot, and to be able to visualize the settings described in the book. I'm not a big TV watcher, but the miniseries was superb, anchored by a flawless lead performance- Alec Guinness conveys erudition, but can wither with a glare. The miniseries belongs to him, but actress/comedienne Beryl Reid runs away with a scene playing a former agency head of research who Smiley contacts for information regarding the probable Russian handler of the mole:

I particularly love the way she conveys the sheer delight she feels to be on the hunt again, to match her superb wit against her subtle enemy. It's to Alec Guinness' credit that he is content to be upstaged by his costar. Ms Reid's soliloquy also reveals the temptation presented to boys growing up during the death-throes of a world superpower: Trained to Empire, trained to rule the waves. Englishmen could be proud then, George. They could... All gone.

Both book and miniseries are fantastic, and complementary. In this era of renewed Russian actions against the West, they are good, timely reads.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bloated Blowhard's Blighty Blunders

Ugh, what an embarrassment... Vulgarmort landed in the UK, greeted by hundreds of thousands of protestors, and proceeded to lie to and about the media, and managed to look like a dumbass, spawning some very funny, often obscene, responses. My favorite comment was a reaction to the US Embassy warning Americans abroad to keep a low profile:

Nah we love Americans it's just the haunted fluorescent ham mannequin and his keyboard MAGA arseflutes that need to shit off into a heap.

Now, THAT is how you cuss somebody out... this guy has been on a roll!

Being the sort who can't keep his mind on work, Vulgarmort scarpered off the Scotland, where he has long been unpopular. If anything, the protest signs were even more hilarious than the English ones. Yeah, the prevailing attitude in the UK is that Trump is a numpty, indeed a bawbag.

First NATO, now the US/UK alliance... what is the next relationship he's going to fuck up?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Tourist Experience

Working evenings and nights, sometimes I am tasked with locking up the site after business hours... I have found that the best way to get people to leave at the end of the day is to give them someplace to go. There are a couple of nearby places to which I refer people, one of which I went to for dinner with friends before tonight's shift. We are all June babies, celebrating a month late, so we went to one of the nicest local places:

Every once in a while, it's good to see one's home territory through the eyes of a tourist- I have been referring people to this restaurant for years (if they are on a budget, I tell them to order one drink apiece, split an appetizer plate or two, and live la dolce vita for a half hour before going to a less expensive place for a main course), and it is nice to see that my local knowledge is sound.

Me being me, I am now reminded of a Gang of Four song which is most appropriate:

Of course, playing the tourist isn't the same as being a tourist- as I walked from my parking spot to the restaurant, I ran into plenty of locals that I knew.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mom's Birthday

As soon as I got to work tonight, I called mom to wish her a happy birthday. Mom is going strong, as always, and we had a great discussion of current events- before I called her, she had a similar conversation with my brother Vincenzo, who wished to retire from the Army earlier this year, but was 'stop-lossed' for a year. Needless to say, neither he nor my mom is happy about the current situation regarding our alliances with South Korea and NATO. It's kinda weird when even a routine 'happy birthday' call becomes a discussion of the current National Nightmare.

Mom made sure that all of her kids inherited her insatiable curiosity and devotion to education. I can't even begin to describe how indebted to her I feel... she instilled in us her values, the values which have allowed us all to thrive. She continues to be an inspiration and a source of strength.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

It's an Alliance, Not a Protection Racket

Well, the Dotard is in Belgium after spending two days bashing NATO and the European Union. He thinks that other NATO nations aren't paying their fair share for defense, though the United States' spending on military matters is completely out of whack. He's also whining about the US trade deficit vis-a-vis the EU, but here's where I note that Americans want European wines, cheeses, and olive oils while nobody in Europe is itching to get some Velveeta... there are reasons for this trade deficit, and they don't involve Continental chicanery.

This insistence that our NATO allies are cheating us reflects the Dotard's mindset- he looks at NATO as if it were a classic Mafia style protection racket, and is trying to shake down the other signatories to the treaty that formed the organization. It's a case of 'Nice country you've got there, Estonia... be a shame if something happened.' Weakening NATO will only strengthen Russia's position on the world stage, and Western defense experts are gaming out possible Russian moves to destabilize the Alliance further. With Dotard planning to meet with Putin after his visits to Belgium and the UK, it seems more likely to me that he is actively working on behalf of Putin rather than merely taking Russian money and looking the other way... I suppose that would make him less of a dotard and more of a mole.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The ApPotUs

Tonight, Donald Trump announces his pick for Supreme Court justice during primetime. The guy really thinks in 'Reality TV' terms- this announcement will be really good for ratings. Unfortunately, unlike his role in The Apprentice, his current gig doesn't involve editing out his incompetence and viciousness... now, wouldn't you love to see the footage that ended up, as the cliche goes, on the cutting room floor?

I'm not going to predict his pick, but nominating Amy Coney Barrett would be a classic troll maneuver- putting a woman in charge of dismantling women's reproductive rights, then calling any liberal critics of her misogynists. Of course, I have a plan for such a contingency, and it's crazy enough that it JUST MIGHT WORK!!! At any rate, I won't be watching the live announcement, having no wish to boost Dotard's ratings.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ditko Dead

I have never been a big fan of comic books, with one notable exception, but I have absorbed much of the pop culture through Saturday cartoon adaptations. Well, recently, the reclusive Steve Ditko, who came up with Spider-Man, died in his New York apartment. To me, Spider-Man was perhaps the most appealing superhero- he was a teenager who had to deal with studies, relationship complications, money problems, and an overbearing boss. Spider-Man was created as an Outer Boroughs hero, the sort of hero who is currently popular, a Queens kid who receives a gift that he is compelled to use for the common good, but unable to use for his personal enrichment. Spider-Man also remained resistant to the silly 'grimdark' aesthetic that seemed to characterize comics and genre fiction in the 90s- there was a bright primary color palette, though the narrative was tempered by a tragic backstory, which in some iterations could have been prevented by Spider-Man himself.

Besides Spider-Man and many of the villains in his orbit, Ditko created Dr Strange for Marvel Comics. He also indulged in his *SIGH* Objectivist leanings by creating an Objectivist superhero. Funny how this character never got the Saturday morning cartoon treatment.

At any rate, Steve Ditko was one of those titans of pop culture, even if he wasn't a household name. I was introduced to his work through reruns of the 1967-1970 cartoon series with the catchy theme song:

There were also hilarious Spider-Man sequences in the 1970s education show The Electric Company

The bit about not being able to eat a hotdog still cracks me up. At any rate, even as someone who didn't read comic books, Steve Ditko's most memorable characters percolated into my pop-culture awareness... and of course, without Spider-Man, we wouldn't have Italian Spiderman, who is even cooler:

I'd be remiss if I didn't post the Ramones' take on the theme song to the 1960s era cartoon:

After all, the Ramones were also superheroes from Queens... and Steve Ditko fans to boot.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Dramatically Patterened 'Stealth' Lepidopteran

Tonight, I found a dramatically patterned insect on one of the doors of our main building- look at this gorgeous thing:

It took me a while to identify it because nothing about it screamed 'LEPIDOPTERA'. As we have a pond onsite, I was looking up caddisflies of eastern North America and getting nowhere. I finally decided to look up all insect species listed for New York state on the wonderful Insect Identification website, and luckily it was listed among the 'A's' or I'd still be looking. This most unmothy (antennae aren't feathery, wings are compact) looking insect is an Ailanthus webworm moth, a North American moth which has adapted to utilize a tree introduced from Asia, though now commonly associated with Brooklyn.

It's a strikingly pretty insect, one I really don't recall seeing before. Apparently, they are originally from the semitropical regions of Florida and the Caribbean region... but global warming is a Chinese hoax.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Republicans in Russia

What better way to celebrate the foundational document of your nation than to visit a hostile foreign power that has meddled in US elections? Eight Republican senators decided to spend the Fourth of July on a visit to Russia. The delegation DID manage to spend time on the 4th with the US Ambassador, where they sang the national anthem:

Oh, say can you see
By St Basil’s fair domes
The proud GOP,
Paying court at the Kremlin.

In bold ties and dark suits,
They are far from their homes.
Doing damage to us,
Sabotage like a gremlin.

And each GOP flack
Wants a KGB hack
To win in the Fall
‘Cos it’s morals they lack.

Oh, say does your senator hang out with Putie?
Then voting his ass out, is your sacred duty!


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day, or IndepenDUNCE Day?

As is often the case, I find myself working on the Fourth of July. I don't mind, though, I have gotten to a point in my life at which I'd rather not deal with crowds, or traffic, or any other BS. I'm not even prepared to deal with noise this year. It also doesn't hurt that it is a double-pay day. If I need to celebrate a holiday, I can celebrate Arbor Day or St Swithin's Day.

I didn't have to be at work until 5PM, so I waited out the heat wave reading the outraged responses to NPR's tweeting of the Declaration of Independence and the hilarious responses to some dumbass predicting that the Democrats would start a civil war. There are a lot of dunces in this nation, so many that they jeopardize our democracy. As if that weren't bad enough, a US court ruled that there is no fundamental right to literacy. When asked what sort of government the Constitutional Convention implemented, Ben Franklin is reputed to have responded: "A republic, if you can keep it." If people don't wise up, those prospects seem dim.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Subverting Trump's Supreme Court Pick

In the wake of Anthony Kennedy's retirement, Trump will be nominating a Supreme Court justice. One of the purported frontrunners is Amy Coney Barrett, an under-fifty, ultra-conservative Roman Catholic woman who is expected to be hostile to the decision in Roe vs Wade. The conventional wisdom is that Coney Barrett would be a disaster for women's access to reproductive healthcare.

If Coney Barrett does get the nomination, there is a way by which the Democrats could subvert the process. Most Republicans are stupid and hate to read, and all Republican members of Congress are stupid and hate to read. I mean, they have Louie fucking Gohmert on the payroll. Because they are stupid and sloppy, it might be possible to trick them into, instead of voting for Coney Barrett, voting for Courtney Barnett:

There are no citizenship requirements to be a Supreme Court justice, so putting an Australian on the court is perfectly Constitutional... and wouldn't you rather have a deadpan-snarker Aussie lesbian singer-songwriter on the court than some moral scold?

Monday, July 2, 2018

If'n You Hear 'Splosions, Git Yer Shootin' Arn!!!

Ya know, shit like this is going to get someone killed- Alex Jones is telling his troglodyte audience that Democrats are planning to launch a civil war on July 4. Seriously, this is Radio Rwanda level stochastic terrorism. July 4th is a public holiday, a holiday on which people gather in large crowds to watch fireworks, listen to music, or engage in other activities.

It's past time to ban this asshole from his online platforms- he is fostering a culture of paranoia which has all-too-often resulted in real-world violence.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

It's Incontrovertible, We Are in the Stupidest Possible Timeline

Sometimes, it feels as if we have slid into a parallel universe, an alternative timeline in which we are now living on a changeling Earth, and not a badass techo-sorcery Changeling Earth. There is a prevailing sense of surreality as we see the President of the United States engaging in trade wars with Canada, mulling over the dissolution of NATO, and getting played by the dictator of North Korea.

There have been indications that we are living in the stupidest timeline, and I believe we now have confirmation: the Trump administration has apparently drafted an anti-WTO bill called the US FART Act. The people can't even do Orwellianism right.

UPDATE: There's a Crap-and-Trade joke in here somewhere...

Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Most Symbolic March

I missed the marches against family separation today- we've been short staffed at work, so I had to work both graveyard and afternoon shifts today. The march in New York City was particularly well-routed, the thousands of marchers began at Foley Square in Manhattan, the civic heart of Manhattan, went over the Brooklyn Bridge, which affords spectacular views of New York harbor, through which countless immigrants, including my great-grandparents and my mom's dad, who was born at sea between Buenos Aires and New York. The march ended with a rally in Cadman Plaza, in the civic heart of Brooklyn. I like the significance of linking both borough government centers, a nice show of rejection for federal policies which don't comport with our prevailing values. While I didn't have an opportunity to march, I am pleased that more people attended the major marches than attended Vulgarmort's inauguration.

In morning, before I left work, I was participating in a discussion of various slogans to put on signs at the march. My contribution was: "You can't be the party of family values if you don't value families." Another possible slogan for me would have been: "Juntos somos poderosos, juntos podemos cambiar el mundo." Alas, a particularly rough weekend at work sidelined me.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Genre Gadfly Gone

This is going to be a quick ‘placeholder’ post which I will elaborate on later... Harlan Ellison, the writer most responsible for the American ‘New Wave’ in science fiction, has died:


He was a controversial figure- he was notoriously litigious, and groped Connie Willis at the 2006 Nebula Awards, but he also championed women, people of color, and LGBTQ science fiction writers at a time when the genre was overwhelmingly white and male. His 1967 anthology Dangerous Visions was a game changer in the field.

I will elaborate on this post tonight- Ellison’s body of work is formidable, and his legacy complicated, so I have some homework to do. At any rate, the science fiction community has lost another titan.

Thursday, June 28, 2018


Well, it happened again, like we knew it would- five people were killed in a mass workplace shooting at Annapolis, MD paper Capital Gazette. Among the slain was editor Rob Hiaasen, brother of journalist and novelist Carl Hiaasen. The alleged gunman had a long-standing feud with the staff of the paper for reporting on his stalking conviction (violence against women being a common feature among mass shooters) and just about everyone in Anne Arundel County- and as a bonus, he seemed to be a fan of a certain reporter-threatening ogre.

I am flabbergasted that an individual with his rap sheet and lengthy history of threats could own a firearm- he seems like exactly the violent sociopath that gun laws are supposed to weed out. As for the customary "thoughts and prayers" spouted by everybody who wants to distract the public from the need for gun regulation, reporter Selene San Felice has the last word:

“I just don’t know what I want right now, right? But I’m gonna need more than a couple days of news coverage and some thoughts and prayers because it’s — our whole lives have been shattered. And so thanks for your prayers, but couldn’t give a fuck about them if there’s nothing else.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Those Eyes! Those Cheekbones! Those Policy Positions!

The big local story, which has gone national, is the victory of 28 year old political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over ten term incumbent Joe Crowley in NY's 14 district. Her political ad was powerful, and if you watched it with the sound turned off, it could be the trailer for a TV drama about a young professional trying to make it in the city, because Ms Ocasio-Cortez looks like an actress-model:

You could set your watch to those cheekbones! I think the mainstream media is going to freak out about her because she is too gorgeous not to put on the TeeVee, and she is too intelligent to fall into their stupid traps, with even 'liberal' NPR trying to get her to badmouth Nancy Pelosi. One take on Ms Ocasio-Cortez' message discipline is that she grew up in the social media mindscape, so she knows that unconsidered utterances never go away.

I am also impressed by her unabashedly socialist platform: Medicare for all, the disbandment of the hopelessly corrupted ICE, and a real effort to mitigate climate change. She is as passionate as she is disciplined, advocating policies which would actually benefit those who suffer from genuine economic anxiety. In a year in which women will play a major, hopefully a transformative, role in politics, she is a pacesetter.

As if all weren't enough to make you swoon, she has an asteroid named after her. Not every rising star has a space rock.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Simple Solution to a 'Final Solution'

Today was a pretty shitty day from a news standpoint, what with two really bad Supreme Court decisions (but, hey, at least Susan Sarandon didn't have to sully her moreliberalthanthou purity), but I will be headed out for Tuesday night bar trivia, and don't have the time to write a detailed post. Here's a quick bit about a has-been troll making threatening comments about journalists...

Milo Yiannopoulos has started issuing reporters threatening messages when asked to comment for stories.

“I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight,” the right-wing nationalist told Observer over text message, in response to a longer feature in development about an Upper East Side restaurant he is said to frequent.

The simple solution to this kerfuffle is to stop asking this asshole to comment for stories. His fifteen minutes of fame is over- hell, I even feel dirty posting about him, but then this is low-hanging fruit on a barley-drinking night.

Monday, June 25, 2018

My, What Teeth You Have!

In the apartment directly upstairs from me, there lives a lovely family. Mom is an immigrant from Ireland, and she has two wonderful children, a boy and a girl, who she has enrolled in all sorts of activities. Besides playing basketball and soccer for their grammar school< the kids play for a Gaelic Athletic Association affiliated league. The kids compete in Gaelic football and hurling/camogie. For the past two Saturdays, the kids have had all-day tournaments, so mom asked me if I could let the family dog out in the middle of the day so he could pee.

Georgie is a wee little terrier mix, about the size of my beloved Ginger. He's a cute little fuzzball:

Being a terrier, he's got a bit of a fierce streak... His idea of play is to fetch a ball, and then to viciously maul it in front of you, biting into it and shaking it until you distract him with another toy, say a short length of rope with afraid not. Here's a picture of his handiwork:

Look at those choppers, getting ready to sink into that poor, abused soccer ball as soon as I move to snatch it up and throw it across the yard. I'm glad he likes me!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Annual Pride Day Post

Here's wishing all of my LGBTQ readers a happy Pride Day. The New York parade has a different route this year to accommodate more marchers. This year's parade should take on an added significance as a memorial for local gay rights pioneer Dick Leitsch, who died last week. Also, the Pride festivals feed into the Resistance movement because Trump has been bad for LGBTQ rights, among other things nominating judges who decide to legalize bigotry under the guise of religious freedom.

Since last year, I have had LGBTQ friends express to me their fears about the direction in which our government has been heading. One friend even told me that she was afraid to marry her partner because she was concerned that she'd end up on a watch list. As someone playing the game of Life on the Lowest Difficulty Setting, I can't even begin to comprehend that sort of fear.

Anyway, here's hoping that everyone is safe and happy on Pride Day. If things do get worse in the short term, you have friends and allies... and we'll figure out a way to make sure that things get better in the long term.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Architect of Much of My Musical Taste

On Tuesday, the local NPR affiliate had a really great interview with Seymour Stein, who co-founded the Sire Records label with musical genius Richard Gottehrer. Mr Stein was one of the godfathers of the NYC punk scene of the 1970s, having signed my beloved Ramones, Talking Heads and Dead Boys. He also brought such overseas bands as the Undertones (Derry's Ramones), Echo and the Bunnymen, the Smiths. He also signed the Pretenders and some woman named Ciccone, who sang lead on some Sex Pistols effort. He also signed the Replacements and Ice-T to Sire Records.

Needless to say, Seymour Stein has had an outsized influence on my musical tastes, since I was a wee lad. The list of artists recording for Sire encompasses much of my music collection. One of my favorite stories about Seymour Stein was recounted by Joey Ramone's brother Mickey Leigh in his memoir I Slept with Joey Ramone, an account of Seymour's distaste for a particularly transgressive song recorded for the first Ramones album:

(Sire Records executive) Seymour Stein came up to the studio in the afternoon and complained, "You can't say, 'I'm a Nazi baby, I'm a Nazi, yes I am,'" referring to the opening lines of the song "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World," which had become the Ramones' signature closer at live shows. It was kind of ridiculous, but not to Seymour. The words are:

I'm a Nazi, baby; I'm a Nazi yes I am
I'm a Nazi shatzi, y'know I fight for the Fatherland.
Little German boy, being pushed around
Little German boy, in a German town

It didn't offend me, and I'm a Jew.

It didn't offend my brother.

Tommy, whose parents had narrowly escaped the death camps during the Holocaust, was more sensitive to this issue but acquiesced so as not to impede the band's artistic freedom and black humor. To me, the song conjured up the image of a weak, skinny German kid, who after being bullied in his own little burg, found a way to become one of the bullies. It was like a glimpse into the mind-set of a typical Hitler Youth member, brilliantly summed up in two lines.

Seymour was insistent that the band change the lyrics. The Ramones were sticking to their guns. A heated and emotional argument ensued; it looked as if this could be a deal-breaker.

Then they started talking about alternatives and came up with the line, "I'm a shock trooper in a stupor, yes I am."

Even that was too much for Seymour; to him, it was equally offensive.

But after a big struggle he finally gave in and allowed them to go with "shock trooper."

"I don't know if I should admit it," Seymour later confessed, "because I got over it pretty quickly, but I wasn't pleased with the Nazi references in the songs. You can't throw away twenty years of Jewish upbringing in Brooklyn."

If you are at all a fan of any of the bands signed to Sire Records, the NPR interview is a fun listen. After many years of playing songs by bands Seymour Stein signed, it was nice to hear the voice of the man himself.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Arbeit Macht Klug!

I am disconcerted by the Trump Maladministration's proposal to merge the Department of Labor and the Department of Education. On one level, it seems like another stupid Republican 'drown government in a bathtub' downsizing plan. Given the rise of children's internment camps throughout the country, such a merger takes on a more sinister edge- would merging Education and Labor pave the way for schools becoming child labor facilities? Just imagine, Ivanka Trump could put those tiny child hands to work making her crappy merchandise.

I am snarking here, but some of the children have apparently been whisked off by a DeVos funded 'charity', and I wouldn't put it past her to make them pack Amway products while charging the US taxpayers thousands of dollars per child to 'care' for children separated from their parents.

ADDENDUM: This makes my blood boil!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Death of a Cat Lover

Just about a year after the death of a beloved feline companion comes the sad news that a beloved celebrity cat lover has died. Like many people around the world, I am saddened by the death of Koko the lowland gorilla at the age of 46. There were controversies regarding Koko's handling and her actual linguistic ability, but her attraction to cats won her the love of millions, including myself. Traditionally, I had always been skeptical regarding the anthropomorphizing of animals, but if Frans De Waal says it's okay to some extent, I think I can lighten up.

At any rate, I am sad to see this remarkable gorilla leave us, she brought a sense of wonder to an all too cynical world. I can think of no better tribute to her than to cherish a feline companion. It's what Koko would do.